Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog – Saving money every day with DIY crafts, sewing projets, low-cost recipes & shppping tips

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Pieday Friday – Bottomless Harvest Pie

After going foraging on a blackberry walk last weekend, today’s blog post is the result of that walk. I decided to combine the blackberries with apples (cooking apples are abundant in the garden at the moment) and make a bottomless pie. What does that mean? It means that I made a blind-baked pie base and it shrunk so much that I couldn’t use it! I therefore went for just a pie crust on top of the filling in a pie dish. Don’t worry, it tasted just as yummy and actually it’s a little bit of a healthier pudding, because there’s about half the amount of pastry!diy-recipe-baking-harvest-pie-cooking-apple-and-blackberry-pastry-dessert-pudding-7 diy-recipe-baking-harvest-pie-cooking-apple-and-blackberry-pastry-dessert-pudding-3Ingredients: 225g plain flour, 100g butter, 25g caster sugar, 2 tablespoons water, a pinch of salt, 100g sugar, a dash of amaretto, plus as many cooking apples as it takes to fill your pie dish and as many blackberries as you can gather!

The pastry: Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl and rub in the butter using your fingertips. Add the cold water and stir with a knife until it comes together into a stuff dough. Roll out on a floured surface to the thickness of a pound coin. By the way, my pretty rolling pin is from The Caravan Trail if you’re interested. I like to use it for pastry as it’s ceramic so stays cool – very important in pastry-making!diy-recipe-baking-harvest-pie-cooking-apple-and-blackberry-pastry-dessert-pudding diy-recipe-baking-harvest-pie-cooking-apple-and-blackberry-pastry-dessert-pudding-2The filling: Peel, core and slice enough apples to fill your pie dish. Put the apples in a pan over a medium heat and add 100g sugar to sweeten the tangy taste of the cooking apples and a splash of water (or a dash of amaretto if you like the flavour). Allow to cook down (keeping some chunky bits) and allow the apples to become a little mushy. Taste the apples and add more sugar if needed. diy-recipe-baking-harvest-pie-cooking-apple-and-blackberry-pastry-dessert-pudding-4 diy-recipe-baking-harvest-pie-cooking-apple-and-blackberry-pastry-dessert-pudding-5

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Hands up – Who is a fan of the Great British Bake Off?

Unlike other TV competitions like Strictly Come Dancing and The Great British Sewing Bee, which I have followed from the very first episode, I was a bit late to the GBBO party. Yes, I admit it. I only started watching Bake Off three seasons ago. And that’s quite late in the day really. In 2013 I had no idea who Paul Hollywood was, and only had a passing knowledge of the queen of the kitchen Mary Berry. I hadn’t heard of a technical challenge and my only knowledge of the contestants was that one of them once took something out of the fridge. And that’s just because I heard it reported on the radio. I’m ashamed to say that I was not a Bake Off fan. But in summer 2014 that all changed because I went to Blogstock.Step by step recipe for GBBO schichttorte-9There I met lots of lovely bloggers and over the course of a (rather giddy, popcorn-filled, coffee-fuelled) weekend, we got to chatting about what projects we were each working on. My new friends told me about #GBBO. No, not the bake off itself, but the Great Blogger Bake Off. It was a weekly challenge to recreate the recipes from the ‘actual’ Bake Off in our own kitchens, and you KNOW how much I love a blog challenge! Having still not watched a single episode, I actually had to tweet my blogging pals to find out what the theme was that particular week so that I could get started. It was biscuit week, and chocolate chip cookies was the first recipe I baked to take part in the Great Blogger Bake Off.
Apple StrudelIt was so much fun, I loved being part of the Blogger Bake Off community and it was good to have a focus to my recipe articles for the summer. After that first attempt, I simply had to watch GBBO every Wednesday in order to find out what the theme was, and I diligently cooked along with the contestants every single week. I made an apple strudel for European week, I baked a blackberry tart with home-picked blackberries for pastry week, a giant donut for advanced dough week and apple crumble two-ways for pudding week.Apple Crumble Two WaysI even attempted the most famous technical challenge of all; the schichttorte. I completely surprised myself as this recipe turned out to be the best thing I’ve ever made in my kitchen. It probably helped that I was following the instructions to the letter, whereas I usually mess around with recipes to make them my own. Layer by layer my schichttorte took shape, and an hour of careful cooking later I had something that looked almost exactly like the one on the Great British Bake Off. Even though it turns out that I don’t like the flavour of schichttorte (it’s just like pancakes but without the lemon and sugar!) at least I found out that I CAN make it, woo!Step by step recipe for GBBO schichttorte-5

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Thrifty Wedding Inspiration – Homemade cake buffet

Wedding food can take up a hefty chunk of any wedding budget, so it’s important to consider plenty of different options when you decide how to cater for your guests. After lots of research (on Pinterest, naturally) I began to think that dessert + after-dinner truffles + wedding cake + tuckshop + ice cream cart might be a little bit overkill for the average wedding. Sure, these are all really lovely parts of the wedding reception and if you’re known for your undying love of ice-cream then go for it! But if you’re on a budget, it’s not a problem to play around with the wedding breakfast format a little and same some money at the same time.L&A-LowRes-539After checking out these images of fabulous dessert buffet tables I learned that IS possible to cut back on some of the food at your wedding without disappointing anyone. To be honest, a slice of cake at the end of the night won’t really be missed, and serving up your wedding cake instead of a dessert is a perfectly acceptable money-saving option too. Why not ask guests to compete in a ‘bake off’ and bring a cake that they have baked at home. This would fit in perfectly with a village fete themed wedding and allows guests to be a part of the event. All you’d need is some serving plates and a big rosette for the ‘winner’ of the bake off. And I’m sure all the guests would all enjoy tucking into the huge variety of cakes that end up on the bake off table.L&A-LowRes-538 L&A-LowRes-540Laura from no-nonsense wedding blog Devine Bride says; “We tried to be creative with our wedding to make it more unique to us, but also to try to save some pennies along the way. My sister is a bit of a foodie and ended up having two wedding cakes at her wedding, however everyone had such a good time that that they forgot all about the cakes and we were still eating them for 3 weeks afterwards! We decided to reabsorb our wedding cake budget, removed our dessert course from our menu, and asked all of our local friends to bake us a cake instead of bringing us a present. We ended up with a massive Pudding Garden dessert buffet! It was a massive hit with our guests and it meant so much to us that our friends had contributed to our day.”L&A-LowRes-254 L&A-LowRes-543I think that these buffet tables all look so inviting, and the variety of cakes that guests could bring to your wedding is unlimited. I would personally love to be asked to bake a dessert, and would hand over my cupcakes with pride! I also think that guests would be more happy to tuck in when there’s a cake buffet on offer, as nothing is too precious to slice up (unlike a traditional wedding cake). Of course, if you want to ‘cut the cake’ you could always stack up a number of Victoria sponge cakes to create one large tiered cake, or could ‘cut the ribbon’ instead to declare the dessert buffet open!L&A-LowRes-285 L&A-LowRes-541 L&A-LowRes-271Let me know if you’ve decided to do something a little different for your own wedding by leaving me a comment below and I’d love to see your own wedding ideas or cake photos so please tag me on Instagram @Cassiefairy. And be sure to stop by Laura’s blog Devine Bride for plenty more wedding inspiration, advice and fantastic ‘real life’ wedding photos.



Early Pieday Friday – Baked chocolate cheesecake for Easter

It’s the 1st of March and I’m ready for Easter. Bring it on. There’s none of that lets-wait-until-April business this year. Easter falls on the last weekend of the month (I should know, my bestie is getting married that weekend!) so as soon as Valentine’s Day passed I was already preparing for the next big holiday. And so were all the supermarkets; tempting me in with slabs of chocolate and bags full of mini eggs. What’s a girl to do? Bake, that’s what! easter baked chocolate cheese cake recipe primula 1easter baked chocolate cheese cake recipe primula 2Today I’m sharing an early Pieday Friday recipe post with the intention of making you as excited as I am about the impending 4-day holiday. Is it the chocolate that I love? Is it seeing family and friends when everyone has a bit more time to spend to together? Perhaps it’s the pretty daffodils bursting into bloom that lift my spirits so. Whatever it is, I think that having a teacher for a husband means that I DO tend to arrange my life around the holidays, and our next break starts on Good Friday. Woo!easter eggs baked chocolate cheesecake recipe-7 easter eggs baked chocolate cheesecake recipe-12So without further waffle, here’s today’s recipe post. It’s a baked vanilla cheesecake with smooth chocolate ganache topping and crumbly biscuit base. Piled high with mini choccie eggs. It’s a practice-run for Easter lunch and I’m completely thrilled with how it turned out. Creamy and cheesy and chocolately. And, because I used fat-free quark and light Primula cheese, it was a littler healthier than a classic cheesecake. What more would anyone want?

Ingredients: 12 digestive biscuits crushed, 50g-75g melted butter, 75g Primula cheese, 250g fat-free quark, 1tsp vanilla extract, 100g caster sugar, 2 eggs, 100g chocolate, 50g double cream.easter eggs baked chocolate cheesecake recipe-3Start by bashing up the digestive biscuits into crumbs and mixing with the melted butter. I used 50g to start with but it didn’t seem moist enough (texture should be like damp sand) so I added some more. This may have been too much, but it tasted good, so I’m happy. Press the biscuit base into a loose-bottom cake tin with the back of a spoon until you have a flat base. Chill for about 15 minutes. The base I mean, not you.easter eggs baked chocolate cheesecake recipe-4 easter eggs baked chocolate cheesecake recipe-5Whisk 2 eggs, the tub of quark, vanilla, sugar and Primula together – you could use 100g of this if you like your cheesecake really cheesy. I chose to use Primula Light but the original tube would work just as well. I just fancied a healthier cheesecake base to counteract all of the chocolate, cream, butter and sugar. Ahem. There are lots of sweet recipes online that use Primula as an ingredient so check them out and bake something a bit different today.easter eggs baked chocolate cheesecake recipe-6 easter eggs baked chocolate cheesecake recipe ganachePour the cheese mixture onto the base and bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes until risen, set and golden. Allow to cool and take out of the tin. Position it on a pretty cake stand or plate so that you’re ready to decorate it with lots of mini eggs and the chocolate ganache.easter eggs baked chocolate cheesecake recipe-7 easter baked chocolate cheese cake recipeTo make the chocolate topping use 100g chocolate of any kind you like. I chose milk chocolate. Break it into a dish and melt. This could be over a pan of water, or pop it in the microwave on a really low setting like I did and check it lots. Once the chocolate has melted, pour in the double cream and quickly mix until combined into a fudgy sauce. Add more cream if it’s a bit solid – you want it to run down the edges a little as you spread it over the cheesecake. Pile high with mini eggs and MINI mini eggs (yes these do exist, I found them at B&M) and shavings of chocolate. easter eggs baked chocolate cheesecake recipe-10 easter baked chocolate cheese cake recipe-2The texture of the cheesecake is much firmer and more dense than that old classic out-of-the-packet set cheesecake everyone remembers from childhood (mmm, I love that stuff – do they still make it? Leave me a comment below if you know). So it’s easier to slice and serve. It could be a refined plate-and-fork pud, but I wanted to smother it in cream so I went for the bowl-and-spoon option.

Let me know if you bake this cheesecake for yourself by leaving me a comment below and tweet me your photos of finished bakes to @Cassiefairy.


Pieday Friday ~ Baking the GBBO technical challenge: Schichttorte with Stork

Or at least, I’ve tried to make the technical challenge! I was lucky enough to be sent a GBBO mystery baking box from Stork in order to bake this week’s technical challenge – the hamper included all ingredients I should need, the instructions for the bake and even utensils and a cake tin! Just like the contestants on The Great British Bake Off, I had no idea what I would be baking until the hamper arrived on Wednesday, so there was no chance to practice in advance or perfect my technique but  I’ve tried my very best to turn some butter, eggs and flour into an amazing-tasting dessert.Stork hamper for cooking GBBO technical challenge_-3

Up to now, I’ve been baking along with the theme each week as part of #TheGreatBloggerBakeOff and it’s been great fun to choose my favourite recipes. I’ve been a little bit sneaky at times, choosing banana bread for bread week, and a yeast-free doughnut for advanced dough week, therefore carefully avoiding using any kind of yeast in my baking! So this week it’s been really interesting to bake along with the GBBO technical challenge because I couldn’t pick-and-choose which recipe I wanted to make – okay, okay, it’s usually the easy recipes! – I had to do it all and complete the challenge without any knowledge of the bake.Stork hamper for cooking GBBO technical challenge_-2 Stork hamper for cooking GBBO technical challenge_

When the Stork hamper arrived I was both delighted and terrified. Delighted because all of the ingredients were included (yes, even the eggs!) and Stork had kindly sent me a spring-form cake tin (without which the cake would have been very difficult to turn out), whisk, wooden spoon, tea-towel and even a huge mixing bowl – essential for whisking those egg whites. Terrified because I finally set eyes on the recipe and found out that it was one of the most difficult I’d ever come across. There were so many processes involved and I needed to watch my cake cooking at every stage rather than bunging it in the oven and leaving it for 20 minutes like I normally do. This cake is made up of layers of grilled sponge mix, which gives it a lovely striped centre (that’s the theory, anyway) but it also means that it needs to be grilled 20 times for 1-2 minutes each – that’s a lot of standing around in the kitchen. I decided to make good use of the grilling time by having a little dance around while it baked and as a result I’ve perfected my Charleston kicks now!Step by step how to make a Schichttorte cake

Anyway, without further waffling (because it’s not a waffle, it’s a schichttorte…) here are the ingredients and the recipe that I followed, along with some ramblings about how I got on with the recipe:

Ingredients for the cake batters: 8 eggs, separated, 150g Stork tub, 150g caster sugar, 125g plain flour, 80g cornflour, 2 tbsps. Amaretto, 2 tbsps. cocoa powder

Ingredients for the glaze: 125g dark chocolate, 50g Stork block, 1 tbsp. golden syrup, 2 tsp AmarettoStep by step how to make a Schichttorte cake-2

Cream together the Stork tub and caster sugar until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks for 5 minutes until pale and thick. Yes, the whisk in this picture is for illustration purposes only – I used a hand-mixer to whisk for 5 minutes, because I didn’t want my arm to fall off! Add the egg yolks to the creamed sugar-and-butter mixture and combine well. Add the plain flour and cornflour and mix well. So far, so good.Step by step how to make a Schichttorte cake-3

In a large bowl whisk the egg whites to soft peaks – again this called for an electric whisk in my case! – then fold into the cake mixture in thirds. Do this slowly until combined then divide the cake batter in  half. I did this by weighing the mixture and pouring half into a different bowl. Stir 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder into one batter and stir 2 tablespoons of amaretto into the other. I found that the amaretto kept separating and sinking to the bottom of the batter so I needed to stir this before each layer was added to the cake to make sure it was mixed through. Step by step how to a fold in egg whites-2 how to make layers of a chocolate schichttorte how to make layers of a chocolate schichttorte-2

Preheat the grill. Similar to the GBBO contestants I didn’t have instructions for the temperature or grill setting so I just put it on the highest setting and when the batter layers started cooking through a bit quickly, I turned it down a touch. Grease an 8 inch cake tin and add 2 tablespoons of batter mix to the base of the cake tin, spreading it out evenly. Place the tin under the grill and allow the batter to cook for 1-2 minutes until just cooked through. When the first layer was finished it looked just like a pancake.

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Add two tablespoons of the second batter and grill again to cook through. Repeat the process alternating the batters to create the layers. This recipe should easily do 12 layers, but I managed 19/20 layers using up all the batter. After the first couple of layers, I noticed that they were cooking more quickly so each layer from then on only took a minute each to cook. I also found that the cake was coming away from the edges a little as the layers stacked up, so sometimes the batter ran down the sides – you can see this effect from my photo below – so I was pleased that these wavy edges would be covered up by the glaze.Step by step recipe for chocolate schichttorte-2 Step by step recipe for chocolate schichttorte

Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. To make the glaze I melted the dark chocolate with the Stork block, golden syrup and amaretto. I melted the whole lot in a pan on the hob and I had it on a high temperature to start with but panicked when it started bubbling and turned it down. I’m glad that I did because the slower melting meant that I could stir our all the lumps and bubbles to make a smooth glaze – which hardly ever happens when I’m melting chocolate!Step by step recipe for chocolate glaze Step by step recipe for chocolate glaze-2

I let it cool for about 5 minutes before spreading onto the top and sides of the cake. A tip to make this process easier is to put the cake on top of an upturned bowl, which is placed on a plate. When you are spreading on the glaze it can run down the sides and off the cake without making a mess on your work surface or your cake stand. Plus you can eat the excess glaze off the plate and bowl when you’re feeling peckish later 😉Step by step recipe for chocolate glaze-3 Step by step recipe for GBBO schichttorte Step by step recipe for GBBO schichttorte-2

I decorated the top with a little white icing which I drizzled on in a swirl pattern then I used a cocktail stick to pull it out from the centre to create a web pattern. I thought this would be good practice for Halloween, but it actually looked rather classy too! Interestingly enough the glaze doesn’t set, it’s like a soft chocolate fudge sauce and it really makes the cake, which would be a little dry or too pancakey without it.Step by step recipe for GBBO schichttorte-3 Step by step recipe for GBBO schichttorte-4

Ta da! What do you think of my first ever attempt at making schichttorte? I’m actually surprised at how professional it looks and I think that Paul Hollywood would enjoy counting my layers. Even though I’d lost count during the baking process, I think there are 20 layers, or maybe I’m counting the glaze (can’t tell at the top because it’s soaked in a little) and it’s 19. Either way I’m just chuffed that the layers are fairly even and that the colours are in the right order! I think it turned out well because I was being careful and concentrating hard because it was a new technique for me. I’ll definitely be baking it again but I worry that I might be a little more haphazard the second-time around, feeling over-confident because now ‘I can do it’, so I’ll try to remember what a difficult bake it actually is! Step by step recipe for GBBO schichttorte-5 Step by step recipe for GBBO schichttorte-6 Step by step recipe for GBBO schichttorte-7 Step by step recipe for GBBO schichttorte-9 Step by step recipe for GBBO schichttorte-8Let me know if you’ve ever tried making a schichttorte yourself and how it turned out. I’m so grateful to Stork for helping me to try out this bake, because without them I would have come up with some lame recipe for GBBO’s patisserie week rather than take on a technical challenge like this – and then I wouldn’t have learnt anything, would I? I’m so pleased to be able to add another recipe to my repertoire and I am already planning to make another schichttorte for a special holiday with my friends in November, so wish me luck!

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My GBBO recipe for baking a giant doughnut!

This week’s challenge for the Great British Bake Off is advanced dough. I don’t know if I’d call this advanced (as I deliberately chose a recipe without yeast!) and I’m pretty sure it’ll be rather basic compared to all the extravagant flavours and shapes on tonight’s TV show, but I fancied baking a giant doughnut, so I went in search of a recipe and adapted it a little to fit in with the ingredients I had at home! You can add other flavours such as cinnamon or nutmeg, or even cocoa powder to create different versions of this yeast-free doughnut but I went for a plain vanilla base, with a lemon icing topping. giant doughnut recipe for GBBO-6 I love the traditional pink of a Homer Simpson-esque glazed doughnut but I prefer the taste of lemon, so I mixed up the icing sugar with lemon juice rather than water, and scattered a few sprinkles on top. I’d really rather have used rainbow hundreds-and-thousands but I didn’t have any in the cupboard (I must have used them all up in my confetti fudge recipe!)

1 cup plain flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, ⅓ cup soft brown sugar, 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1 large egg, 1½ teaspoons vanilla, ½ cup buttermilk (or normal milk with a splash of lemon juice) Mix the melted butter and sugar together (and try not to eat it all, even though we know that sugar and butter is the most delicious thing in the world) before adding the egg and vanilla. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder (and any other spices you want to use) and whisk until combined. Pour in the buttermilk and mix into a smooth batter. Pour into a large greased ring tin, or into small ring molds if you want to make a number of smaller doughnuts. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes and test with a cocktail stick to make sure it’s cooked inside – if the stick comes out clean with nogloopy bits, it’s done.

Mine looked rather cracked on top, but when I turned it out onto the plate, it looked smooth and ready for icing. Allow to cool completely before pouring icing over the top and adding sprinkles. A chocolate doughnut would be great with a melted chocolate topping withchoccie sprinkles or drops and I’m sure that’ll be my next bake!

My lovely melamine plate is from The Caravan Trail

I ‘forced’ myself to make this giant doughnut as part of the Great Blogger Bake Off and plenty more bloggers around the country are doing the same! Search for #TheGreatBloggerBakeOff on Twitter orInstagram to see what we’ve all been baking and to check out their recipes too.

All this GBBO activity has made me think about my own Pieday Friday recipe book that I made last year and I’ve recently looked back over it. Although the recipes are some of my favourites and work perfectly well, I’ve been cringing at the photos I used and I would definitely like to start again to create a new Cassiefairy cook book. It could be just me, but I think it’s much easier to learn how to do something by watching a video (even if it’s a short one). For instance, making my own custom recipe book seems like it would be really complicated, but then I watched this video walking me through it and it became pretty understandable. Here, check out this video about how to make your very own book with Blurb and see if you think it would get you started too. In the meantime, I’m going to start sorting through my photos and recipes for my updated Pieday Friday book! If you fancy finding out more for yourself, here’s where I found the video:


My GBBO pastry recipe ~ Blackberry tart

Around here the blackberries seem to have ripened earlier than they have in previous years. I’ve been picking on-and-off for the past couple of weeks while hubby and I go on our evening walks so I already have quite a lot of blackberries ready to use up in my autumn cooking. The theme for this week’s GBBO and The Great Blogger Bake Off if pastries so I decided that a blackberry tart would be a fun recipe to try out. Blackberry picking autumn

Rather than making a pie filling with the blackberries and loading it into a rough puff pastry case, I thought I would make a jam, which would then be spread onto the pastry like a big jam tart. Blackberries can release a lot of juice while cooking so I thought that this extra process was better than ending up with a soggy bottom! So here’s the recipe for the jam which I found on the BBC Good Food website:

Ingredients: 900g blackberries, 900g sugar, 1 and a half tablespoons of lemon juice, 50ml water

Bring the washed blackberries , lemon juice and water to the boil in a large pan and then simmer for 15 minutes. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved then bring back to the boil for around 10 minutes. Test with a jam thermometer that 105C has been reached, or to check whether your jam is done without a thermometer, drop a blog of jam onto a chilled saucer and wait for a minute before pushing your finger through it (be careful not to rush into this, it’s soooo hot!) . If the jam wrinkles, it’s ready!  Allow to cool for 15 minutes before pouring into sterilised jars and sealing. It should make about 4 jam jars.

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I used this jam to spread onto the rough puff pastry and here’s the recipe that I followed from Bero:

Ingredients: 225g plain flour, 150g lard and margarine diced and mixed, pinch of salt

Mix the flour and salt and stir in diced fat with a knife before mixing into a stiff dough with water. Roll out into a  thin strip then fold into three. Turn it one quarter of the way round and roll out again before repeating the folding and rolling three times. Chill for 15 minutes then use to line a pastry case, like this tin that I got from Wholeport with a loose base to make it easier to get the pastry out. Spread I the jam onto the base and use leftover pastry to make a lattice over the top. Brush with egg yolk and bake in the oven at 180 degrees for around 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and crisp.

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Serve with fresh blackberries and vanilla ice cream!

Loads more lovely bloggers are taking part in #TheGreatBloggerBakeOff so check out the hashtag via twitter and instagram to find more delicious recipes!

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My GBBO European week recipe ~ Apple strudel

This week’s theme for The Great British Bake Off (and therefore The Great Blogger Bake Off!) was European cakes so I chose to make that German classic, apple strudel. Or Apfelstrudel if you want to order it in Germany. Although, I have some news for you – it’s not a German recipe. Oh no, the fruity pastry that we all enjoy at the annual Leeds Christkindlmarkt – the traditional German Christmas market – is in fact Austrian. It’s actually the national dish of Austria and thanks to Wikipedia I now know that it originates from Vienna in 1696. Amazing huh? I also know that strudel is traditionally made with filo pastry but I don’t have any and wouldn’t have a clue about how to make it, so puff pastry will just have to do!

I picked some apples from the tree in my mum’s garden and set to work creating my Austrian masterpiece. I used just four ingredients for the filling: apples, brown sugar, sultanas and cinnamon. It’s a really easy filling to make – just dice apples and stew them in a pan for about 10 minutes. Again, my recipe is a little bit hit ‘n’ miss because I didn’t measure out any quantities – I just threw in some brown sugar to sweeten the apples (which really depends on how tart your apples are), a handful of sultanas and sprinkled on cinnamon until it tasted Christmassy. I’m sure there are plenty of recipes out there that would recommend lemon juice, butter, nutmeg etc but I just tasted my filling and added more sugar or cinnamon until it tasted yummy!

I rolled out the puff pastry into a large square, then spread the filling all over the middle, leaving a gap around all the edges. Then I rolled the strudel up. Recipes will tell you to roll it up ‘like a cigar’ but I’ve never rolled a cigar either, so I went for rolling the longest edge in, folding the ends in and then continuing to roll until the top edge of the pastry is underneath. I’d say it was more like wrapping up fish and chips really! I transferred the rolled-up strudel to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper before brushing the top and ends with milk and sprinkling on caster sugar. I baked it for about 25 minutes in the oven until it was a lovely crispy golden brown colour. Serve with a big blob of vanilla ice cream, cream, custard or pretend you’re in a Viennese café and serve with a glass of champagne! As they say, when in Austria…easy apple strudel recipe for the Great British Bake Off-7easy apple strudel recipe for the Great British Bake Off-8easy apple strudel recipe_

Lots more fabulous bloggers have shared their bakes for #TheGreatBloggerBakeOff and here are the links to their posts too:

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The Great Blogger Bake Off ~ Apple Crumble two ways

The theme for this week’s Great Blogger Bake Off was (as always) inspired by The Great British Bake Off, and I’m pleased to tell you that it is one of my favourite things to make; desserts!

I went for a stroll this weekend and picked some blackberries that have ripened particularly early this year. There was a good handful that were already ready to be picked but not enough for my yearly jam-making session, so I decided to make the most of this early crop by adding them to one of my favourite puds of all-time – apple crumble.

I actually made two crumbles this week; one apple and blackberry and one apple with cinnamon and sultanas. It was such a simple recipe that I didn’t even follow a recipe to make this dessert, I went more on how the crumble topping looked rather than by measurements. Here’s a photo of my approximate meaasurements which were about 2 tablespoons of butter (or margarine), 4 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of sugar, which makes the topping for a crumble for approx. 2/3 people in my deep oval dish.

Similarly, with the apples I just filled the dish with peeled, sliced apples until it looked like there were enough in there for the base, threw in a handful of blackberries with a couple of tablespoons of caster sugar. In the second crumble I added a sprinkling of cinnamon and a few sultanas along with the apples and sugar. I then added the crumble topping and sprinkled each top with sugar (brown or white, either is fine!) and a bit more cinnamon on the sultana crumble. I always feel like Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle when I peel apples because she peels a whole massive apple in one long curly strip and I try to recreate that!

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The crumbles took approx. 30 minutes in the oven at 180 degrees and I enjoyed them with a scoop of ice cream, although when I watch tonight’s Great British Bake Off, I’ll probably add a blob of extra thick cream to the cinnamon apple crumble instead!

 I still can’t believe that has made it onto the Cosmo Blog Awards 2014 shortlist for Best Lifestyle Blog! It would mean the world to me if you would vote for my blog before voting closes THIS WEEK on 29th August – thank you SO much!


Pieday Friday – My recipe for Banana Bread Bites

In honour of #TheGreatBloggerBakeOff, which is taking place each Wednesday to coincide with The Great British Bake Off, I have decided to move my regular Pieday Friday recipe column to Wednesdays for the duration of the series. I thought that two recipes each week might be a little too difficult even for me to achieve, so it’s now one recipe each week, on a Wednesday, based on the theme set on GBBO. This week it is bread and of course I didn’t just make a standard loaf. Oh no, I went for it with a big batch of banana bread and customised the recipe that I found on the BBC website by adding juicy sultanas and making banana bread ‘bites’ using a square muffin baking tin, rather than a loaf. Here’s the recipe:

285g plain flour, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, ½ tsp salt, 110g butter, 225g caster sugar, 2 free-range eggs, 4 ripe bananas, 85ml of milk mixed with 1½ tablespoon of lemon juice, two handfuls of sultanas, 1 tsp vanilla extract

Here’s how I did it:

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Cream the butter and sugar together before adding the 2 eggs, mashed bananas, milk and vanilla extract and mixing well. Sieve the flour, barcarbonate and salt on top of the sugar mixture and fold in. Grease a muffin tin and spoon the banana mixture in. Bake in the oven for around 15 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown. Eat warm with a dollop of ice cream, or leave to cool and pop in your packed lunch box for tea break!

 I still cant believe that has made it onto the Cosmo Blog Awards 2014 shortlist for Best Lifestyle Blog! It would mean the world to me if you would vote for my blog before voting closes on 29th August – thank you SO much!

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